Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My year in review

2008 has been one helluva year, politically speaking.

It exceeded all my expectations by several magnitudes.

This was one of those years that effectively bookends a decade. We started this decade with a stolen presidential election and a massive terrorist attack. We're ending it with getting rid of a terribly inept administration and starting a new era in American political history. It's obvious this decade will be defined by these two sharply contrasting events.

Speaking of which, have we even figured out a consensus term for this decade? What I mean is, if I refer to the "90s", you know exactly what I'm talking about; the decade of the 1990s. We commonly speak of decades by their numbers; the "60s", the "70s", etc. It seems like the 20s through the 90s are acceptable terms.

So, what are we supposed to call this first decade of the new millennium? The "zeros"? The "aught-ohs"? We better figure this shit out sometime soon, because we only have one more year left before we hit the "10s"!

Looking back at this year, I can see that its significance started for me personally not long after the 2006 election. That was the first year I wrote a political blog and was very involved in the online coverage of the Ned Lamont campaign.

In early 2007, I posted the preliminary schedule of presidential primaries, which was a post that grew and changed as states changed their primary dates and reshuffled the calendar right up until January 2008. That one post, which I edited and refined many times over the next 16 months, netted well over 100,000 hits for people searching Google for "primary schedule".

Which was cool, in that it not only got a lot of exposure for my blog, it also provided a real service because there wasn't a simple text-based up-to-date primary schedule anywhere online. Everything was either incredibly complex to use, like CNN's primary website, or they were grossly out of date. I edited the schedule well over 100 times as dates changed and later, as primary results started coming in.

Going into late 2007, after the local elections, the year began in earnest for me. There were pub quizzes for the Jim Himes campaign, Jim Amann kicked off his gubernatorial bid, and Chris Dodd announced his presidential run on the hated Imus show.

The Imus thing kind of pissed me off. It's not bad enough that Dodd decides to announce his presidential run in New York rather than somewhere in his home state, but he does it on the show of a man who appears to be suffering from advanced dementia.

This video pretty much sums up my feelings about that. And while I lauded Chris Dodd for his valiant effort to fight telecom immunity, he spent much of the year ignoring the warning signs that our economy was in serious trouble. Not to mention the fact that his possible sweetheart mortgage deal has brought his ethics into question.

January 1st, I hit the ground running. I was up in Manchester NH for the first official primary, and spent the evening at Dennis Kucinich's returns party, shooting video and watching the upset of Barack Obama by Hillary Clinton. John McCain also won that night, which is the first time I realized that he was probably going to be the GOP nominee.

"Anderson Scooper" shows his love for John McCain's implied support for bombing Iran at a pro-McCain rally up in Manchester right before the primary.

Speaking of bombing, there was a bombing incident that happened the morning after the Texas and Ohio Democratic primaries, in Times Square at 4AM, 35 floors below my hotel window. It woke me up briefly, but I figured loud explosions were probably normal in midtown, and as the hotel didn't start an evacuation, I quickly fell back to sleep until 7AM, when I turned on my TV and saw the coverage. I looked out my window and saw satellite news trucks far below on the street. Apparently the bomb was placed by an anti-military anarchist at the Army recruiting station that sits famously in the middle of Times Square. It was kind of a nice change of pace to have a terrorist attack where nobody was killed or injured.

The hard fought primaries continued. John McCain opened up a formidable lead early in the Republican race and was the de facto nominee by the day after Super Tuesday on February 5th.

Sen. Ted Kennedy speaks at the Obama rally in Hartford the day before Super Tuesday. By then, Hillary and Barack were the only two Democrats left standing, and they battled fiercely for the nomination. Hillary's campaign made some memorable commercials, including this one that I edited to accurately reflect the fear mongering they engaged in:

The annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner was memorable in that I shot probably my favorite photo of the entire year, when Branford Boy was seated by State Central (accidentally, I'm sure) at the same table as the candidate for Congress in the 4th CD Lee Whitnum. Branford Boy may have been known to take a metaphorical shot or two at the wayward candidate on MLN.

By late May, the DNC decided upon the final delegate counts that would be assigned to Florida and Michigan in response to their violating the rules and moving their primaries into January. Here's a memorable video by Jane Hamsher that shows an extremely disgruntled Clinton supporter lashing out at the decision:

Summer finally arrived, and local politics became a bit more important. I interviewed Chris Murphy (below, with Spazeboy's help), and the race for the challenger to Chris Shays heated up with Lee Whitnum forcing a Democratic primary against Jim Himes. Plus, sailing season got here, so I was on the water every chance I got.

I was most proud of asking Chris if he ever felt an uncontrollable urge to push Jean Schmidt down a flight of stairs. He laughed and mentioned how she sometimes said some interesting things.

For a short time, maybe about six or eight weeks, the Hartford Courant selected and printed one of my "columns" every week in both the online and the newsstand Sunday editions. When they made a subsequent round of cutbacks, they stopped featuring online commentary. Because I was allowed no input into the article selection or editing decisions, I was somewhat ambivalent about the results. They often picked articles that were not my best writing, and then edited them for space and content. But it was kind of neat seeing my inane rants published in the paper. Many readers saw this as an obvious sign that the hallowed publication was truly scraping the bottom of the barrel for content; I won't even try to defend myself on that one.

In August, Jim Himes handily defeated neophyte Lee Whitnum for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic National Convention was amazing, ending with perhaps the most memorable Obama speech of the campaign. 13 hours later, McCain successfully stole the Democrat's thunder by naming Sarah Palin (a political blogger's wet dream!) as his VP candidate.

The Republican convention was great, every bit of it worthy of mocking. From Joe Lieberman's whiney condemning of everything Democratic, to John McCain's forgetful speech, it was special. Even their dumb inclusion of a green screen backdrop made for fun; here's my little video that shows what happens if you give bloggers a chance to fiddle with the video:

My "McCain't" bumper sticker was vandalized. Here's the before and after images of the dastardly (and cowardly) deed:

Several days later, my Obama sign was stolen off my front lawn. They left my Barbara Lambert and Gayle Slossberg signs alone. This kind of thing reached epidemic proportions across the country. But I was a little surprised to hear of so much of it happening here in blue Connecticut.

Another unlucky Milfordite who lost his sign, but decided to fight back with a bit of class. Obama won in Milford, along with all the Democrats on our ballot.

We won big in November, pretty much across the board. We sent Chris Shays packing, and Barack Obama to the White House. It was cool. I don't need to elaborate much on it, except for the one video above, taken at Jim Himes Election Night HQ in Norwalk.

Oh, and we apparently forgave Joe Lieberman for being such an asshole.

Now, as 2008 draws to a close, I just want to say one thing:

It was one helluva year!


Jonathan Kantrowitz said...

Just got back into town - Great summary of the year . Nice to see Jim Himes picture with me and Mike Brown!

CT Bob said...

Thanks. Yeah, I was hoping you'd see that, Jon!